Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Brand New Bike...

Thanks to a recommendation from Denise Taschereau at Fairware I recently discovered the Shift Report. The Report presents insight into what sustainability issues really matter to people. Conscientious Innovation - the producers of the report - help companies to use this knowledge to realize the business opportunity in sustainability.

So what sustainability issues are most important? Topping CI's list includes things like:
  • Feeling connected to friends, family and community
  • Sense of well being
  • Balanced life
  • Being paid a living wage
  • Employer treatment of employees
Still important but near the bottom of the list:
  • Organic
  • Environmentally friendly products
  • Climate Change
  • Global warming
We can relate, right? I mean, we care about climate change, but the intensity of our involvement spikes when we look at the faces of 11,000 residents of Tuvalu whose country may drown in the South Pacific when sea levels rise. We connect with them, empathize with them, want to ensure their well-being and hopefully, as a result, we act for them.

It's interesting to analyze our sustainable event actions relative to the Shift Report's insight. Is your event or destination acting on these kinds of issues?

Many events and destinations have started at the bottom of this list. Event planners are counting carbon, buying local and organic, and choosing more energy efficient, climate-friendly venues and hotels. CVBs are responding by providing carbon offset options and inventorying sustainable venues, hotels and community features to communicate how these add value of their destination product. Don't get me wrong - these are not bad things! The greatest step, after all, is to get started. It just may not be the best thing if you're looking to have the biggest impact on your stakeholders, if you 'Shift' your thinking.

By default we pay attention to the first item on the Shift list to a degree: we're holding events that can connect people to people, after all. But do the experiences we create really make people feel connected to each other and the destination?

I recently took part in a very cool event experience in Portland, OR, that made me feel both. RunBrainRun engages conference and corporate teams in fun, challenging exercises that build bikes for local youth. Our team (Go Ruff Riders!) was made up of event professionals from throughout the country, both planners and suppliers. The activity instantly forced us to collaborate in a way that set aside all agendas and differences in backgrounds. We were there to have fun, work hard and well...try to figure out how to not disappoint the kid we knew would be getting our bike! After an hour of rushing, cheering and figuring out how to do things like attach a bike pump to a cross bar we were done, and presented our accomplishment to Jake, the young boy who was to be the proud owner of our new bike. Hands down the most rewarding moment of my whole week was seeing the grin on his face as we handed him his helmet and bike lock.

This is the memory I'll take away from this event and destination: the great time I had with my peers, the gift we were able to give one person and the smile he all rewarded us with. Thanks Travel Portland for making the shift to thinking sustainably. Thanks Ruff Riders for the laughs and fun! And of course, thanks Jake.

For more information on the Shift Report visit Conscientious Innovation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bike building exercise was so much fun and so worthwhile. It allowed the team concept of the conference to continue and really allowed us to connect with the community. It will remain a fond memory for me.

Judy Kucharuk